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Prosecution Details

Offender Comgroup Supplies Pty Limited


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Charge Charge Number Offence Date Date Convicted Regulation Section Penalty Provision Penalty Imposed Date Sentenced
1 Unknown at time of publication Between 12 and 14 October 2006 3rd September 2009 3A(3)(b)(i) $20,000.00 3rd September 2009
Description of Breach(es)

Being an employer, did not so far as was practicable, provide and maintain a working environmnent in which its employees were not exposed to hazards and by that failure contravened the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984.

Background Details

The accused is a business that specialises in the production and export of products for the fast food and catering industry and used to conduct business from premises located at 27 Carr Street, West Perth, until May 2008 when it ceased its business operations in Western Australia.

The accused employs staff to operate the machines and manufacture its products, as well as staff to clean the machines and its premises.

There are two production shifts and one cleaning shift. The cleaning shift starts at 11 pm and finishes at approximately 4 am.

Description of Work

At the start of the shift, the cleaning supervisor cross-checks with the production supervisor that all of the machines have been switched off and "locked out" ready for cleaning. The "lock out" procedure involves the use of keys to which only the supervisors have access.

The cleaning supervisor is the only person permitted to switch on and operate the machines, if required to do so, as part of the cleaning process. The other cleaning staff are not authorised to switch the machines on.

One of the machines that is required to be switched on as part of the cleaning process is known as the "Formax 26" which has two plungers that need to be moved into various positions, in order to be cleaned properly.

As at October 2006, the usual practice was for the cleaning supervisor to switch the Formax 26 on and move the plungers into the correct position and then switch the machine off again, so that the Formax 26 was off while it was being cleaned.

One of the employees was rostered on as the cleaning supervisor for the shifts commencing at 11 pm on Thursday, 12 October 2006 and Friday, 13 October 2006, however he was unable to attend work due to illness.

The accused did not arrange for another cleaning supervisor to take his place.

As usual, the cleaning staff were required to clean the Formax 26 machine during their shift. The cleaning staff were not trained to operate the machine.

Although the cleaning staff did not have a key to the Formax 26 machine, it was possible for them to operate it and move the plungers on the night of the accident.

In addition the key switch was defective and not working properly.

At approximately 3 am on Saturday, 14 October 2006 two of the cleaning staff were working on opposite sides of the Formax 26 machine. One was scrubbing the plungers while the other employee was hosing down the other side of the machine.

At some stage during this cleaning process, the Formax 26 machine started up, causing the plungers to move without warning. As a consequence, the injured person's right hand was crushed between the plungers and the main body of the machine.

His right thumb was fractured and he suffered a right index finger amputation of the distal phalanx.

It was practicable for the accused to have a lock out and tag out procedure and an interlocking guard so that the machine could not be started inadvertently during the cleaning procedure.

An employee in charge of engineering and machine maintenance repaired the key switch which was not working, the day after the accident.

Outcome Summary

Pleaded Guilty

Court Magistrates Court of Western Australia - Perth
Costs $2,960.70

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